Founders Spotlight: Tavonga Muchuchuti (Managing Director, Xavier Africa)

Having graduated as the valedictorian of the BAC class of 2019, Tavonga was and is still spoilt for choice when it comes to job offers. But his desire to impact and change the lives of his fellow Africans for the better through technological innovation has led him to an entrepreneurship path through his startup, Xavier Africa. In this interview, he shares more about how his journey in entrepreneurship and much more!

In your own words, tell us who Tavonga Muchuchuti  

I’m a simple guy that loves to solve problems. My life goal and purpose is to identify the problems that plague the African stratosphere and solve them so my life is set around fixing problems. In professional settings though my personal profile is as below;

Tavonga Muchuchuti is an award-winning entrepreneur, a Yale Young African Scholar, Magna Cum laude Finance graduate from Sheffield Hallam University, the 2019 BAC valedictorian, the inaugural International Student Prize recipient for the best academic performance across all Sheffield Hallam partner schools, an MBA candidate,  and the Managing Director at Xavier Africa, a bespoke software development firm that specialises in crafting AI-powered solutions to alleviate burgeoning inefficiencies within the African landscape.

Briefly take us through your journey to a career as a tech entrepreneur

Well, my getting to tech was pretty unconventional. It all started when I was in my first year of college and I had this crazy idea to create an app that would basically remove the information gap between financial service providers and customers. In my initial projections, I was meant to be a millionaire at least within the first six months haha - and my experience trying to build this company led me to figuring out multiple parts of the development lifecycle from both the business development elements and software engineering processes. Because my partners and I pretty much had no money I had to quickly learn how to code and started off by playing around with JavaScript, went on to focus on the React library and as time went on decided to shift my focus mostly to machine learning libraries (ended up focusing on TensorFlow). This venture ultimately failed but it left me with valuable skills in business development, problem-solving and most critically software engineering skills.


The year before I finished university I then decided to partner with a close friend of mine (Motheo) and this led to the ultimate establishment of Xavier Africa as an entity. And it's been quite the journey since then!

Your background is in Finance. Please tell us how you ended pivoting to starting a tech startup

Over the last 11 years, I developed a fond passion for financial technology and its potential to

completely eradicate financial exclusion in the African continent. Despite the creation of

various applications and systems addressing financial exclusion; a majority of them are not

complex enough to aid African entrepreneurs with the step-by-step processes of improving

their business from a financial standpoint. Therefore, I have made it my life’s purpose to equip

myself with the knowledge, tools and team that can propel me towards creating financial

technology that can help my fellow Africans achieve their financial goals. Thus, all the steps I have taken since then including studying Finance, working closely with advanced technology firms and starting Xavier Africa have been aligned towards fulfilling this purpose!  

Initially - Xavier Africa had been started as a financial technology firm but as I got embroiled deeper into the technology- I decided to broaden the scope into other big African problems including the lagging educational sector, the avoidable deaths lurking in our health sector and our continent’s inefficient business processes. There’s certainly no better way to solve these problems at scale than software! 

You graduated as valedictorian of your class. You could have got a comfortable job in

corporate. What inspired you to take the entrepreneurship route instead?

Actually, I had a lot of fights with my parents over this particular issue and quite frankly they were right, entrepreneurship was going to be a very risky affair with minimal security for me to get a paycheck at the end of the month. I won't be one to lie -  I have received tons of job offers over the years to join large corporate firms in Botswana and South Africa and some have been very tempting. But I have a deep sense of mission - rather a deep sense of responsibility but I have to make sure I leave my continent in a better state than I found it and quite frankly there's no better way to make that change possible without a bold leap of faith (entrepreneurship) and that's why I did it to solve the problems that keep my continent in a perpetual state of poverty on my own terms.

Please tell us more about your company, Xavier Africa

Well - we’re always solving problems at Xavier Africa and the work we’re currently doing is aligned with the following problems; 

-   Systemically helping African enterprises use digital innovation to become Better, Cheaper and Faster – this way they can be more competitive participants within the global economy. So at the moment, we’re helping multiple legacy incumbents and enterprises improve their operational efficiency and customer experience and are currently working on multiple consulting and development projects within this domain. 

-   Creating radically transformative alternative education for our citizens to ensure that they have the necessary practical skills required to compete in the fourth industrial revolution and reshaping the delivery of education to create better academic outcomes. 

-   Reducing the number of avoidable deaths lurking within our health system by introducing best in class innovations to identify chronic illnesses early, using data mining and artificial intelligence to create bespoke treatment plans for infectious and non-infectious diseases and improving chronic illness patient monitoring to reduce avoidable death.

-   Helping to financially liberate our citizens by reducing institutional credit risk thus, in turn, improving access to financing for small businesses. Furthermore, helping small businesses get access to tools helping them reduce operational costs and inefficiencies.

-   Solving communal systemic problems that affect the wellbeing of vulnerable populations including individuals living in abject poverty, women and children.

So we’re always doing projects within these domains in an effort to improve outcomes for our continent! 

What was the motivation for starting Xavier Africa?

I always produce a mouthful whenever I’m asked this question and quite frankly it all resonates with my pan Africanism as well as my desire to solve problems so quite frankly, the story is as such; 

Africa’s DNA is rooted in innovation, creativity and the refusal to accept status quos that do not serve us. This is evidenced by the fact that we introduced the foundational innovations that make our world what it is today   – in fact – we made the first fire, the oldest drawings found in history are on our walls, we solved the first mathematical equations and quite frankly are the cradle of humanity. But in the process, we lost our way – where were we when the first lightbulb was switched on? Where were we when the first computer was switched on? Where were we when the first cameras captured pictures? And as the world goes into the next revolution, we risk being left behind again and never solving the systemic problems that lie in our societies and quite frankly remaining behind. Our core purpose at Xavier Africa is to restore African pride by solving the systemic problems that plague our society and the only way to do this is by creating an innovative future for ourselves.

As a software solutions enterprise specializing in relatively new 4IR technologies such as Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence, what challenges have you faced operating in a somewhat technologically backwards environment like Botswana’s?

Operating a business within the African continent as a standalone factor is hard and our field is especially harder because its still very much in its infancy. The challenges we therefore face are completely different to those faced by organizations’ in other much more developed economies. Firstly, most enterprises don't know what it fully takes to develop and implement a digital transformation strategy - therefore you find that most enterprises will have small budgets to engage in these projects whilst the reality is that these projects are often very costly and lengthy. So, because most organizations take these projects as a box ticking activity – most of these projects ultimately fail! As a result of the failures – the trust in these projects declines and ultimately a systemic problem has been created where companies believe that these projects don’t work! Thus, you will find that operating in the environment is tough and this makes operations difficult.

How have you been trying to overcome those challenges?

Education education education! We spend 90% of our marketing budget on educating executives and middle managers on the potential benefits they could get from data powered decision-making & artificial intelligence as well as how they can drive their organizations to operational efficiency and customer experience optimization using these technologies. We also offer our clients extensive after sales support where we help guide them in building the building blocks outside of the technology that are required to succeed (i.e. culture, people and process). As a result, the projects we execute have an 85% to 90% business success rate because we offer more than just the technology and rather focus on helping the organization transform holistically. The combination of these factors has helped us build a sustainable and growing enterprise that provides results for clients.

On the other hand, what have been the upsides of working in and running a startup engaged in such a relatively new field?

I think the best way I can do this is by giving an example. A little over a year ago we worked with a large farming supplies organization within the SADC region and we're helping them use digital to find new growth opportunities and ultimately increase their profitability. In doing this, we developed a mobile application for their clientele that would provide them with on-demand advice and insights that would in turn help them increase their productivity. The farmers that used the application saw a 15% increase in their yield over only one season and for most farmers especially small scale farmers this made all the difference for them. Watching people previously disadvantaged gain power through something we built was a humbling experience I can never get tired of talking about! That is the reason we do what we do!

Our country is notoriously known for being efficient on theorizing policies but very slow on their actual implementation as we currently see with the popularity of the “4IR” buzzword. What do we stand to lose if we drag our feet in the adoption and implementation of 4IR technologies?

The truth is we're not doing quite as badly as people are describing the situation to be. Organisations like the Botswana Innovation Hub, the SmartBots program and the Stanbic Accelerate are good efforts being made to get the process started. But look - we missed out on the first ,second and third industrial revolutions as a continent and quite frankly if we don’t intensify the efforts heavily across the spectrum we will watch ourselves get left behind again in the fourth industrial revolution. This will be even more devastating because our African enterprises will be competing against companies that are benefiting from higher operational efficiency and higher customer experience optimization and the gap between us and the rest of the world will get even bigger. So it's necessary that we focus on developing the infrastructure required to prepare for the revolution from all facets of society!

What do you think can be done to speed up the rate of adoption so that products like the ones offered by Xavier Africa become the norm?

I can't remember who said this but they summed it up in a few sentences - “To speed up the rate of technology adoption we need to focus on 3 key areas: mindset, understanding and value. The success of technology adoption relies on the mindsets of the people. Willingness to innovate is closely linked to understanding as well.It is also important to note that undergoing technology adoption will undoubtedly take time, energy, and money.” Digital transformation isn’t just about the technology - it's a transformation - and the only way to be successful at it is by aligning mindsets towards achieving it!

Xavier Africa is currently working on what I think is an exciting and potentially game-changing product called “Teledoc”. Please tell us more about that

First, I’ll share the story of how Teledoc came about. My grandmother has had diabetes for the past 20 years. She checks her blood pressure and sugar levels every morning and visits her doctor once every three months. But last year, because of the pandemic, three months turned to six months.

During that time, she fell sick, and her condition got a little more critical. Thinking about how we could have helped her avoid a situation like this, I realized there’s only so much insight you can gain from measuring your blood pressure twice a day.

We looked into wearable tech like smartwatches and smart rings to see how it could provide more insight into someone’s health. They can measure many of the vital signs a doctor would use to assess a patient’s condition, like heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature, to name a few.

The idea with Teledoc was to measure all these vital signs in real-time, collect the data, and use AI to identify patterns and potential risks. Patients will have a red, amber, or green status, and when they elevate to red status, we’ll immediately alert their doctor, who will have access to it via a web application. 

We also added a feature where patients could log their symptoms and share the medication they are taking. Using all this data, we hope to help doctors make better diagnoses. I know one heart specialist that has fifteen thousand patients. It’s almost impossible to monitor them all. Our web application will give context to doctors and help them make better decisions. 

The product is still undergoing extensive testing and regulatory approval processes but we expect it to be ready to change lives by mid-2022.

What has been the proudest moment of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

I can’t point to a specific moment really because we’re always solving problems at a large scale which is a high I cannot even begin to comprehend. Every day we create real tangible change for the African populace and being able to get to a point where we can create the Africa we want makes me the proudest man in the world.

Apart from Teledoc, is there anything you would like to share with our readers regarding any exciting products or ventures Xavier Africa is launching in the near future?

We are always doing some exciting work at Xavier Africa but a great project worth mentioning is the Ame project! Ame is a WhatsApp chatbot we developed in collaboration with 7 NGOs to help gender-based violence survivors get access to information, counselling services and sometimes shelter when they are at their lowest moments. Over the last 7 weeks since launch we have helped over 200 domestic violence and rape survivors get access to these services and this is another one of the societal impacts we’re proud of making and intend on investing even more resources to the fight against gender-based violence. 

From an entrepreneurial perspective, what advice can you give to young people looking into founding a tech startup in Botswana?

I will reiterate Steve Jobs’ words that say –


"You've got to find what you love... Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

Therefore loving what you do is the key to withstanding the challenges that come with the work we do – so everyone must dedicate their lives to finding what they love and working tirelessly around it.

Lastly,please share with our readers where you can be reached if they are interested in getting in touch

  • EMAIL -

NB: Interview has been slightly edited for clarity
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